I Had a Friend

We went to junior high and high school together. We were in band and choir and worship teams together. We graduated together and even after graduation still came back to our high school to lead worship and volunteer together. In 8th grade, we were goofing around with some friends playing music and he handed me a bass. He showed me which notes were G, D, E, and C, and if you’re a music folk you’ll know that’s all you really need to know to play (most) contemporary worship. I have since pursued growing my note-knowledge and bass-playing, to where it is now like my second job. 

He was smart and kind and funny and gracious. He was tenacious with his academics and volunteerism. He once told me his plans for post-secondary and everything he wanted to study, which ended up totalling 40 years of continual schooling. 

When we had lunch a few weeks ago, he told me about work and being a nurse throughout Covid. I was surprised to hear he had plans to buy a house. He told me about the happenings at our high school and what it was like being the youngest board member. We talked about our friends who were getting married, who got married, and who was already having babies. We joked about who would be next and who would be last. We laughed and hugged and said our goodbyes. 

This weekend he checked into a hotel and suicided. 

As blessed as I am to have had that lunch, I am in disbelief and I am angry that the devil got a hold of him. I mourn for his family that won’t have another December 25th with him. 

He was a talented and influential man, a true light to his friends and family, and there was not a negative thing to say about him. But what does this matter? What does the house, the volunteering, the musicianship, the 40 years of schooling, and all the other plans he made matter when he felt like there was no other option but to end everything? What does it matter that we thought he had “community” and “a support system” and “friends and family who cared about him” when he didn’t think he had that? 

One verse keeps replaying in my head through all this: 

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
O, tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O, tidings of comfort and joy

As the end of this verse repeats, I think, “Comfort and joy? Hah. What comfort and joy? Where was comfort and joy this weekend? Why wasn’t it there in that hotel room when it was needed most?” 

I don’t have any rounded conclusion or understanding to this mess other than this: I sincerely implore you to ask your friends, your family, your next-door neighbours, and strangers, to ask those around you who seem the happiest, “How’s your heart? How’s your mind?” Let’s move past the fake “Hope you’re doing well!” and start being genuine: look into their eyes, hold their hand, give them your authentic and undivided attention, pray for them and pray with them. 

Ask if they have comfort—if they have joy. 

Ask if their mind is at rest. Share with them that Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden light. Compliment them, encourage them, tell them that you are proud of them and they should be proud of themselves too. Tell them that Jesus loves and values them. Find out what their love language is and dump it on them. Shower them with kindness and appreciation. Tell them that their mental, physical, and spiritual health are important to you, and not too small for anyone to care. 

Take it upon yourself to assume the role of a friend—not a medical professional—by supporting them and going with them to a doctor or a counsellor. Guide them to seek professional help. Show them Christ’s tenderness and mercy. Resist the urge to be a bystander this Christmas. 

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1.833.456.4566

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service:  https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/ 

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention:  https://suicideprevention.ca/ 

Mental Health Commission of Canada:  https://mentalhealthcommission.ca/what-we-do/suicide-prevention/ 

Crisis Services Canada: https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/someone-you-know-thinking-about-suicide/

—Taylor Fensury

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